Open Door

Open Door
Indianapolis, Indiana

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Testing Natural Weed Killers - An Overview

Earlier this spring Mom began using a new homemade weed killer that she seemed to be having some luck with, and I saw several other versions going around on the internet. I also saw a very intriguing version talked about on a television show that I ran across one day by a T.V. personality who styles himself the "Dirt Doctor." 

We had done quite a bit of clearing along the exterior fences before the leaves came out, but were not able to clear around Toad itself. So I decided that this area of the yard would be a great place to experiment with natural weed killers. It doesn't really matter if we use a salt based solution and over salt the ground, as we will have to do some reconditioning of the ground before planting there in the future. I hope to find something that I can use around the dogs and that will work for me and my allergies. And we hope to kill all of the plants that are damaging the foundation and bricks of Toad Hall in the process. It's a win/win.

So, I found two main recipes that I want to try. Mom's and the Dirt Doctor's. So, Mom's first:

Salt Recipe (Mom's):
1 gallon vinegar
1 cup salt (Not Epsom)
1/4 cup Dawn Dish Soap (Must be original blue Dawn)

Orange Oil Recipe (Modified Dirt Doctor's):  
1 gallon vinegar (the D.D. recommends that you use 10% organic vinegar which is not found in regular stores, which is not what I used)
1oz orange oil
1 teaspoon dish soap (D.D. says any will do, I used Dawn original blue)
1 Tablespoon Molasses

Now, the note on the Dirt Doctor's vinegar. I realized later that he says to use 10% organic vinegar. At some point in the future I will try and find some of this and see if I can find a place of comparable weeds and test it out. I looked it up on the net and it sells for about 4x a gallon what regular vinegar does. So, I need to see if I can find it local and do a trial to see if it's really worth the extra hassle/cost of purchasing it.

So far I have used 4 gallons of vinegar with the salt recipe, on two separate occasions, on the same section of weeds, trees, and ivy. And I have used 4 gallons of vinegar with the orange oil recipe, on one occasion, on an area that is more than double the size of the first area (not very good for scientific method) that includes weeds, trees, and ivy. 

My conclusion is this: If you don't mind salting the ground, which means eventually never having anything grow in that area again (which is not our long term plan), then the salt recipe will work with repeated uses. The closer together the better and the more sun or heat that it can get, the better it will do. I sprayed the first pass of the salt recipe in the late evening and it took it until a hot afternoon before really noticeable differences occurred. Upon the second spraying, which was done in the heat of a hot afternoon, wilting began occurring immediately. And with that batch one of my two jugs did not get mixed thoroughly and had salt left in the bottom. 

BUT I BELIEVE THAT THE ORANGE OIL RECIPE IS THE HANDS DOWN WINNER. Here's why: I sprayed it over a significantly larger area, one that had at least three times the trees and twice the area, the same four gallon mixture, and while it on first glance fell short of miraculous, there were two items that stood out upon examination. First, some of the ivy that was orange and burned was drooping away from the side of the house. It took two rounds of the salt recipe for any of the ivy on the other side of the house to show any drooping, but only one of the orange oil recipe. That was startling. And it was multiple different strands that were drooping. Second was that the grass and clover all around the areas where the orange oil recipe had been sprayed were burned. It was a windy day. The picture below is a close up, so you can see what I am talking about. Nothing like this has ever happened either of the two times that I sprayed the salt recipe, or the one time I used a prototype version that Mom sent home with me. These things combined lead me to believe that the orange oil version is stronger overall.

 Grass and clover that were singed by blowing wind.

To make it easier for you to see/conclude for yourself I going to post my blogs as follows: First, this blog will just be an overview of what I have done with my conclusion of how it all worked. Then I will post separate blogs with before and after pictures (example: Salt Recipe Try 1 or Orange Oil Recipe Try 1). I will continue using the same four gallons at a time of each recipe on each area so that you can see how long it takes to entirely kill what is there.

I have ordered a gallon of orange oil that should arrive this week and I hope to start my second spraying of that area. Considering that I became ill between the first and second spraying of the salt recipe and there was a extended gap, that should only help to make the experiment more equal. I know that I messed it up by covering a larger area with the orange oil recipe, but we'll have to use our imaginations to fill in that gap. :) Very scientific, I know.

FYI, both versions burn a little when you inhale them, but unlike Roundup, you can still breathe afterwards!   

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